We touched on the story briefly in last week’s news, but two games developers from ArmA studio Bohemia Interactive have been arrested in Greece and accused of espionage. The story from the authorities claims the men were taking photos and spying on military structures on the Greek island of Lemnos. The story from their employer is that the pair were sight-seeing in the beautiful Greek countryside. The third story which has come out of all of this suggests that the men were researching restricted military bases in order to add extra realism to the upcoming ArmA 3.
ArmA 3 features Lemnos, re-imagined in a potential 2035 setting, but Bohemia argues the case is ludicrous, that “these insinuations are completely false and without substance,” and that Ivan Buchta and Martin Pezlar were simply holidaying in the area. The studio acknowledges that the men’s interest in Lemnos was sparked by working on ArmA 3 environments, but the trip was just a sight-seeing experience.
After more than two years of passionate work on Limnos, the fictional counterpart and also a game tribute the to the real place, they were really interested to see the real island of Lemnos. They were there as tourists, and are being charged simply because they were working on a video game. A game that portrays Greece as a battlefield for a fictional futuristic conflict. There is no risk in this game, there is no evidence here that any espionage has been conducted or even that anyone’s safety is compromised. This is at best, ignorance about video games, at worst is is an abuse of power.
The official statement reads:
They took photographs and videos in public areas, as countless tourists arriving to enjoy the beauty and hospitality of Greece may well do. These included a short video as they drove through the main road passing around the international airport, where in one short part of the video off in the distance some hangars and other buildings of the complex can be seen. It’s very likely that many tourists may have pictures similar to those taken by Ivan and Martin in their own family albums, without being aware that they put themselves or their families at risk.
Buchta and Pezlar have also released a public statement, from their jail cell in Mytilene where they are awaiting trial:
While the wheels of justice will turn slowly, there are things you can do as a gamer, and as a supporter. Dean Hall spells it out in this handy list:
- Send a twitter message to the Prime Minister of Greece (@primeministergr) letting him know we want Ivan and Maxel returned to their families immediately. This is probably one of the most public and obvious things you can do to help. Social Media works.
- Call, write, or visit your nearest Greek Embassy (click the link for a list). Let them know what they have done is wrong, and that you want them released. Be civil, but be honest. We don’t stand for this in the part of the world I come from.
- Spread the word, let everyone know. Please forward my post on, and these links, to anyone who might be able to help. For more information you can visit my friends website at http://www.helpivanmartin.org/
- Let the local press on the island know what you think on their facebook page, and their twitter @LesvosNet. Read some of the comments on this article for an idea of what is going on. Let’s end it exactly where it all started in the first place!
Buchta and Pezlar are currently facing up to 20 years in Greek prison, the story continues.